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« How to Get a Book Read (Revised) | Main | Thoughts on the Long List - Making Everything Easy »
Tuesday
Oct102017

Top 10 Advantages of The Long List

  1. You can throw everything at the list as it occurs to you and leave the sorting, prioritizing (and whether you want to do it at all) to work itself out as you go along.
  2. It will show you clearly whether a projected project or action is a goer. If it ends up on an isolated page surrounded by tasks which have been crossed out, you can be pretty sure it’s not.
  3. Tasks and projects will find their own level - a sort of “survival of the fittest”.
  4. The focus is on what you have done, not on what you haven’t
  5. Because you can put anything you like on the list, it opens the world up to you. Thinking you might want to do something quite extraordinary? Just put it on your list and see what happens.
  6. Every task you are thinking of doing has to be written down, put on the list and subjected to the selection procedure. This is a very effective way of avoiding impulsive activity.
  7. Having multiple alternative actions on your list prevents your getting blocked.
  8. Because selecting from the list is intuitive, the work you do is in the flow. Once it’s on the list it’s not work because you’re either not doing it or you’re enjoying doing it.
  9. If you’re in the flow, you do work to a higher standard.
  10. The repetitive effect of re-entering tasks contributes to the building of good routines, and also assists you in extended study, reading, practice, drafting, etc.

Reader Comments (8)

Mark,

I'm not sure I understand #8: "Because selecting from the list is intuitive, the work you do is in the flow. Once it’s on the list it’s not work because you’re either not doing it or you’re enjoying doing it."

I often do a task from the list without enjoyment. Am I doing something wrong?
October 10, 2017 at 18:15 | Registered Commenterubi
ubi:

<< I often do a task from the list without enjoyment. Am I doing something wrong? >>

To answer that question, I would have to know more about how you went about selecting that task to do.

But in general if a task is "standing out" for you then it means that your resistance to doing the task is nil at that moment. You don't have to force yourself to do it. When you do a purposeful task about which you are experiencing no resistance it feels good, i.e. enjoyable.

You also tend to feel much better about stuff you have no choice about, e.g. meetings, courses, if you have prepared properly for them, which you do have a choice about.
October 10, 2017 at 18:36 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I've been struggling, switching between systems for many years. Most electronic. I love FVP and the other systems on this site, and until recently I couldn't understand why they made me feel so much calmer and more comfortable than any electronic tool. I think you named a few:

<< 2. It will show you clearly whether a projected project or action is a goer. If it ends up on an isolated page surrounded by tasks which have been crossed out, you can be pretty sure it’s not. >>

Yep. Un-important/high resistance tasks naturally stand out making easy to either dismiss them or focus on them.

<< 4. The focus is on what you have done, not on what you haven’t >>

I find this the most important to battle the feeling of being overwhelmed and paralysis. You're continually looking at what you've done and watching it grow.


I've finally come to understand these two reasons are why I will never be comfortable with any current electronic task tool.
October 10, 2017 at 19:21 | Unregistered CommenterWaffles
Waffles, I just don't trust digital the way I do paper. That's strange, because I'm mostly digital. Lots of email, writing, projects, websites, data analysis.

My thoughts: It takes more concentration to enter things, especially on small screens, and that's after you type in the password. Finding the program and entering is mostly mental, without the calming tactile sensation of paper. Words appear in a temporary format, which moves around every few seconds, unlike ink on paper that stays put. It disappears. It's more prone to invisible loss.

I tried digital calendars many times, and each time after a few months or a year, I'd go back to paper. My calendar is now digital because of the difficulty scheduling our family. Everyone uses digital and shares calendars. No more having to call people every time I make a family appointment.

Even after several years, my heart rate still goes up when I pull out my phone at the doctor's, or even use the large screen at home.

For task lists, planning, and even time-logging when I do it, it's paper, and I've tried several electronic versions. Paper keeps me calm. It's tactile, soothing, reliable, and I control the data and the format.
October 10, 2017 at 22:19 | Registered CommenterCricket
Mark,

Thanks for responding. I often choose a task that I know will result in a sense of accomplishment - once I finish it. My feelings while doing the task may not be one of enjoyment, but it *is* satisfying to have it done, especially when planning ahead - as you mentioned: "You also tend to feel much better about stuff you have no choice about, e.g. meetings, courses, if you have prepared properly for them, which you do have a choice about." Very true.

So for me the delayed reward from doing the right task at the right time does not always imply enjoyment of the task at hand. Perhaps through contemplation I could change these feelings.
October 10, 2017 at 22:56 | Registered Commenterubi
A long list is complicated for me. First if tasks are relative to projects it is difficult to collect them together. Also the list has a tendancy to increase and most of urgencies are at the end. So the risk become to work only but urgencies.

Digital like word makes thing easier. But there is a loss of trust due to the list which is on the computer. Paper is must trusty but it becomes a mess little by little forcing me to declare a backlog and report the must do at certain time

The real advantage is exhaustivity. The real de advantage is becoming overwhelmed.

Of course it depends from productive job or entrepreneurs. Honestly I dont have any solution. Sadly.
October 11, 2017 at 20:35 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter:

<< A long list is complicated for me. First if tasks are relative to projects it is difficult to collect them together. >>

You can avoid this by having the project name on the main list, and a separate list of tasks for each project.

<< Also the list has a tendancy to increase and most of urgencies are at the end. >>

This shouldn't matter if you are using Simple Scanning because you visit all parts of the list on each pass.
October 11, 2017 at 22:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
@Mark Forster: "2. It will show you clearly whether a projected project or action is a goer. If it ends up on an isolated page surrounded by tasks which have been crossed out, you can be pretty sure it’s not."

Weren't we before looking at most "long-list" systems' tendency to do this as a disadvantage of such systems? I mean I remember it was as late as your forays into RAF that you disparaged this.

It's amazing how one's outlook on things can change as we gain more knowledge.
October 13, 2017 at 1:25 | Registered Commenternuntym

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